Baking is my self-care

“I am rediscovering my love of baking today. I used to use it as self-care, and now I remember how soothing it is for me. I’m headed to a friend’s house later to shoot off some fireworks and gorge on delicious food!”
7/4/18 Facebook comment

This past week I’ve been thinking about how in the heck I’m supposed to follow such a heavy post about feminism and rejecting limitations. I’ve recently started several other posts on meaningful topics that I want to expound on, but they need a lot more time before they’ll be ready to publish. So in the meantime, here’s something a bit lighter! (I would have added the word “literally” to that sentence, but one of the things I’m going to talk about is pound cake which is the opposite of light fare!)

With a few exceptions (mostly holidays like Halloween and Christmas), I haven’t done much baking in the last couple of years. Granted, I’ve done quite a bit of other cooking (chili, of course, plus a lot of Whole30 recipes), but it’s just not the same. Looking back at my archives, I’ve been partial to pumpkin bread in the fall, but the last chocolate chip cookie recipe I posted was in February 2016. (I high recommend those brown butter and molasses chocolate chip cookie bars.) Baking used to be a weekly activity that I truly enjoyed and soothed my soul. It was certainly a welcome distraction during Gator games in the college football season! There’s something calming about mixing ingredients in the right proportions and producing a delicious treat that I can share with my friends and co-workers. These days while focusing on my favorite forms of self-care I realized that baking was one of the ways I took care of myself. Not that eating a whole bunch of cookies is particularly healthy, but I relished the process more so than the finished product. So when I got an invite to the annual Fourth of July party I saw it as an opportunity to reinvigorate this pastime and also provide dessert for everyone.

With July 4th falling in the middle of the week I knew I wouldn’t have time to make anything complicated, so I chose two old, previously posted recipes that I knew would be delicious. Also, I figured there was some leeway in both of them for me to experiment a little. I love the creativity that baking allows me – within reason, of course! So in the berry buttermilk pound cake I used a mix of red raspberries, golden raspberries, and blueberries. The grocery store that I visited in a panic the morning of July 4th had only one package of red raspberries left so I improvised with other fruit. I also added more buttermilk than the original recipe called for – probably an extra 2 Tbsp. The end result was an amazing pound cake that I ate way too many slices of. My second cake was a blueberry upside down cake that I’d made for a Memorial Day get-together a number of years ago. This time I used 1/2 c brown sugar, 1/3 c white sugar, an extra 1/2 tsp cinnamon, and an extra 2 Tbsp buttermilk. I am so glad I made those changes because the cake was absolutely incredible! It was rich, flavorful, and tasted like blueberry cobbler. It’s the perfect summer dessert and everyone at the party loved it.

So will I keep up with my baking as a regular form of self-care? Well, as I mentioned, it’s not exactly the most healthy pastime, but I foresee myself mixing up some sweet treats more often during the second half of 2018. Especially in the fall when Gator football returns! I certainly need to remember that it’s a therapeutic activity that I can easily perform at a moments notice in the comfort of my own home. That is very comforting.

Fourth of July 2016

“Good morning. In less than an hour, aircraft from here will join others from around the world. And you will be launching the largest aerial battle in the history of mankind. ‘Mankind.’ That word should have new meaning for all of us today. We can’t be consumed by our petty differences anymore. We will be united in our common interests. Perhaps it’s fate that today is the Fourth of July, and you will once again be fighting for our freedom. Not from tyranny, oppression, or persecution, but from annihilation. We are fighting for our right to live. To exist. And should we win the day, the Fourth of July will no longer be known as an American holiday, but as the day the world declared in one voice: We will not go quietly into the night! We will not vanish without a fight! We’re going to live on! We’re going to survive! Today we celebrate our Independence Day!”
President Thomas Whitmore, “Independence Day”

July 4th 2015

“After the races (yes there were several) were over Sarah and I stayed for the parade. Boeing had a float in the procession and we just wanted to see it before we left. The parade started at 10 AM. The sun came out. Two and half hours later the Boeing float lumbered towards us. By that time our rear ends were screaming at us, the sun had burned our exposed skin (even after we applied sunscreen that one woman was kind enough to give us), and at least half of the parade viewers had left. The float was pretty impressive but it was unfortunate for both us and them considering that it was the 315th entry.”
7/4/00 webpage post

Fifteen years ago I participated in the Huntington Beach July 4th 5K for the first time. I was years away from becoming a runner, but my roommate talked me into it. I walked it while she ran, and then we stayed for the parade where we got sunburned. Oops! Luckily by 2015 I was slightly more prepared for the event. There are actually two 5Ks in Huntington Beach every July 4th – one for HB residents and one that’s open to anyone an hour later. I was registered for the open 5K that started at 8 AM. However, in order to increase my weekend mileage I decided to run both races. I realize this is frowned upon in the running community, but I didn’t feel too guilty because the July 4th 5Ks don’t give out finisher medals so the only thing I really got for free was an extra bottle of water. Funny enough, the whole thing was actually free because Boeing was a sponsor so I didn’t have to pay an entry fee at all. Bonus! It was warmer than I would have liked that morning, but at least it was cloudy. Summer hadn’t quite set in yet, but it was close. (And as of mid-October the end date is still to be determined. Ugh.) I enjoyed both of the 5Ks even though I wasn’t exactly speedy in either one. It felt good to get 6.2 miles of running done before 9 AM! On my way home I grabbed a late breakfast at McDonald’s to celebrate as part of my usual post-race ritual. I was invited to a Fourth of July party at a friend’s house that evening and I had promised to bring food. Luckily I had taken advantage of having July 3rd off from work and did all of the cooking and baking then. I was tired after the 5Ks so I actually took a nap! Gotta love holidays. The party was a lot of fun that evening. I took a Crockpot full of chili and two kinds of pound cake with me to share. I spent a lot of time chasing kids around and also being chased around by them as well. At one point I was a Wicked Queen and got locked in a dungeon as punishment. It was a blast. Before the night was over we set off a bunch of fireworks in the driveway, much to the delight of the kids. It was classic ending to a lovely Fourth of July celebration.